The Stone of Scone, housed in Scotland but having a long history in the coronation of Irish, Scottish, and English kings, may also have ties to an even more ancient monarchy.
Question: Before the upcoming coronation of Charles III of England, preparation for the ceremony will involve bringing the “Stone of Scone” or “Stone of Destiny” from Edinburgh Castle to Westminster. What is this stone, and does it have any connection to the Bible?
Answer: For many centuries, the kings of England and Scotland were crowned sitting above the “Stone of Destiny.” Prior to that, the kings of ancient Ireland were also crowned sitting on this stone, called in Gaelic the lia fail, which carries the same meaning. Irish traditions say that the stone did not originate in Ireland, however, but came by way of Spain from the East:
According to one Celtic legend, the stone was once the pillow upon which the patriarch Jacob rested at Bethel when he beheld the visions of angels. From the Holy Land it purportedly traveled to Egypt, Sicily, and Spain and reached Ireland about 700 BCE to be set upon the hill of Tara, where the ancient kings of Ireland were crowned. Thence it was taken by the Celtic Scots who invaded and occupied Scotland. About 840 CE it was taken by Kenneth MacAlpin to the village of Scone (“Stone of Scone,” Britannica.com, January 18, 2023).
This famous rock, which is also labeled “Jacob’s Pillar Stone,” is traditionally held to be the very stone upon which the biblical patriarch Jacob rested his head after his father sent him to Padan Aram to find a wife (Genesis 28:11–12). After dreaming, Jacob arose and took the stone, set it up, and anointed it with oil as a memorial to his vow before God to serve Him (vv. 18–22). The stone later accompanied the Israelites on their 40-year journey in the wilderness of Sinai, after their deliverance from Egyptian slavery.
Some people believe that 2 Kings 11:13–14 refers to its use in a coronation ceremony: “Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the escorts and the people, she came to the people in the temple of the Lord. When she looked, there was the king standing by a pillar according to custom; and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. All the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets.”
How did the stone purportedly get to the British Isles, and just who exactly brought it? The journey has to do with an amazing promise made by God 3,000 years ago, whereby the throne of Israel and David’s dynasty would continue to exist until the very return of Jesus Christ. “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations’” (Psalm 89:3).
It is also important to notice Jeremiah 33:17: “For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.’” It says, “the house of Israel,” not the “house of Judah.” After the reign of Solomon, the children of Israel were divided into two houses: Judah and Israel. David’s throne ruled in Judah until the days of King Zedekiah. Jeremiah the prophet traveled with King Zedekiah’s daughters (Jeremiah 43:5–7), and some believe it was he who took Jacob’s pillar stone, in order to transplant David’s throne from the house of Judah to the house of Israel.
This same dynasty has continued down to today in the person of King Charles III, a direct descendant of the daughters of Zedekiah. For centuries, the stone was part of the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey. “In 1996, the stone was officially returned to Scotland. Today, it is one of the priceless treasures on display in the Crown Room [of Edinburgh Castle], visited by millions of people each year. The stone will only leave Scotland again for a coronation in Westminster Abbey” (“The Stone of Destiny,” EdinburghCastle.scot, accessed February 22, 2023). Indeed, the British still intend to use that stone in the coronation ceremony of King Charles III. On it, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned—and the new king will soon undergo the same rite.
If you would like to know more about the amazing history of the descendants of Israel, please order or read online our helpful study guide The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.